The Grace within Vulnerability—Searching God in the Four Corners of the Home
By: Ysabela Dolloso
Seventeen weeks and six nights earlier, I was haphazardly stuffing my valuables into my backpack, eager for morning to arrive when I return home, my family, that I only get to see over every other weekend.
As a full-time university student, my schedule never really allowed for me to take lengthy breaks from school, even when my home was only an hour and a half commute away from the campus, so you could imagine my excitement receiving a memo about class suspension in light of the pandemic.
As a ‘student-dormer’ whom was frequently homesick and sleep-deprived. Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a break from school? To have the chance to rest in the comfort of my own home; away from school and work—‘I mean, that’s the dream, isn’t it?’
After few weeks of oblivion, I was slapped into reality that things will never go back to the way that they once were. Headlines relayed the state of cities, provinces, and even other countries. I felt silly that what mattered to me then were priorities that I now see as trivial compared to what was unfolding to other people. Only vaguely was I aware that the pandemic was, in fact, bigger than I was—bigger than the exams I was yet to take online.
Never did I perceive that families would soon be struggling to keep their businesses afloat, or that poverty-stricken families would further be crippled by the inevitable fall of the economy.
It is indeed during these trying times that we face confusion, and ask difficult questions; ‘Where is God in the middle of this crisis? Where is God in the four corners of my home?’
It is easy to lose sight of God when we are benighted by circumstance. Helpless we feel as we perceived that only close to nothing we could do about it. For most have known the insides of our homes too much, enough to lose contentment; as day passed, they then realized that this is far from the vacation we once asked.
Staying at home didn’t seem so bad until we have no other choice but to wake up, spend the day, and go back to sleep with the same people. Listening to the news, I hear about people losing their jobs, closing down businesses. Then, we hear about cases after cases of infected civilians, and people away from home hindered from returning to each of their homes by fear of contracting the virus.
As worse as it gets, we are put into isolation away and disconnected from everyone.
But, I’d like to think that these vulnerabilities are what connect us to one another. When we are in the position of weakness, we get to look outside of ourselves and empathize with those who have been in the same place as we are. I perceived that what bonds us together is not how often we see each other physically, but how often we feel for each other.
The pandemic exposes many truths about ourselves, our situation, and the world that we live in. More importantly, it reveals God’s immense goodness amidst the panic, pain, and suffering that so many of us are going through. This is exactly the time when we have to keep an eye out for God.
When we feel that we have nothing else to do at home, we start to give in to the lies that are fed to us by the enemy—lies of apathy, injustice, and discord. When the restlessness of the world gets to us, we tend to give in to panic and worry. We start to give in to crosses that have long been put to the grave when Jesus died on His.
So, the next time we try to look for God in the four corners of our home, we start by looking at the faces that we wake up to in the morning. We start by acknowledging that for every door closed during the lockdown, a family was graced with a window to communicate with one another. For every person out of a job, an opportunity is opened even before it is revealed. For every church closed, a new fellowship is opened in every home.
Believe that if we look unto Him, we will see that God has not stopped working for us, with us, and through us.
Even if we are vulnerable to contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the God that we serve is not. We’d do well to know that His strength is perfected in our weaknesses, His grace more augmented in our vulnerabilities.
To end, I do not know where God is exactly or for what purpose this pandemic serves in His great plan; and this is precisely because it is not for me to know. With survival comes the concession that His ways are higher than our ways and that His will precedes ours. To limit His greatness according to our standards would be the most foolish thing that we were ever to do, because in seeking Him, it is one thing to look for God inside the home and another to confine his greatness to its four corners.
By: Jonah Isabel F. Jao
Growing up, I have always heard people wish for other’s welfare; oftentimes, reminding them of their well-being. I figured that we have taken it for granted a little too much. So, when I first heard about the news, there was a point where I told myself that it was merely a pandemic.
With confidence, I had assured myself that as long as my family are carefully following all the safety precautions, we would be safe and secured. Perhaps, I was too focused on my own definition of welfare; relying on myself, my privilege, and my ‘false confidence’.
I would be lying if I say that writing about my story during the pandemic was the easiest thing I’ve written; for, we didn’t live in sole happiness and comfort. It is known to us that the pandemic has caused schools to close down, people to lose their jobs, and cases of deaths increase. Even though, most of our days during the pandemic were filled with caution, hopelessness and never-ending adjustments to the so-called “new normal”, I would still testify that God has been good to us.
It was the morning of the 22nd of April when we received a call from my uncle who lives in Manila. I remember looking at my grandmother with mixed expressions written all over my face. My mind was starts to fill up with thoughts on what it could be about. I had my fair hunches, but I didn’t want to rely on my gut feeling as we are surrounded by negativity.
My hunches turned green when grandmother broke down. kneeling on the pavement as she sobs uncontrollably—her phone pressed to her ears. I remember standing there, helpless, unknowing of what to say to comfort her.
The last time I saw her like that was when we lost my grandfather two years ago. Having to hear that my aunt’s COVID-19 results were positive took a toll on her.
Tearily apologizing to God, she rocked herself back and forth—she asks God why it had to be my aunt.
I was shaken to my core thinking of the worst possible case scenarios. I couldn’t help but also question God why.
My grandmother called my sister and me to the living room and for the first time in months, I started to pray sincerely once again.
If I were to be completely honest, I have lost sight of how to pray, when I know to myself that I have strayed away from God’s presence. At that moment, I couldn’t care less anymore about whether or not I still knew how to or not, and just simply prayed along with my grandmother and my sister, like it was the most effortless thing I’ve ever done.
I have always been in a perpetual state of finding God in everything— may it be through the good or bad times we have been through. Calling upon His name in the deepest corners of my heart that morning felt so foreign yet so familiar, that it felt like I was coming back to where I finally belong.
I knew and I was well aware that I have wandered away from God especially with my spiritual walk with Jesus. Still, I became too comfortable and reliant on myself that I pushed the thought in the back of my head every time I was reminded of it, and only did I realize that it was too arrogant of me to think that way. Nonetheless, despite all the guilt and shame upon my shoulders, it felt like for the first time since then, I was given rest and was being welcomed with open arms.
Two weeks after the call, after all the countless prayers, I knew that it was by God’s grace and healing that my aunt recovered from the disease, my uncle’s results turning out negative, and I was slowly but surely reconnecting with my faith in Jesus, giving me the constant reminder that God is never silent when we are suffering.
In hindsight, though I still cannot exactly grasp the exact definition of welfare during the pandemic season, I believe that it still came to me in a series of revelations that God is still in the throne, and reconnections which, in this case, was my faith with God. Every waking day is a constant battle, and things aren’t getting easier for my family, and I believe that the same goes for other people who are suffering more than we do. However, despite all the hardships faced in this lifetime, it is important to bear in mind that there is a God who’s like the tallest mountain ever existed— unwavering, consistent, and unchanging.
All is well
By: Michael Lyco Barrera
I would like to start this testimony by thanking God for His faithfulness—all glory belongs to Him! Secondly, since you are able to read this message, I’d like to greet you, “Congratulations! On making the right choice of trusting God and His Word! When all around us are in fear, and doubt, you choose to remain faithful, hopeful, and strong!
Before the pandemic struck, I was already facing doubts and discouragements because of losing my job. This was a critical part of my life because I really needed to earn, save in preparation for getting married—sarcastically perfect timing! Making it worse, COVID-19 happened!
The pandemic strikes its fangs disabling almost all functioning establishments in the city, even the national scale.
Finding a job was as difficult as putting a camel through the hole of a needle, but there was light! A job with very good pay was offered, enough for the postponed plan to push through.
I was accepted as a trainer in this newly established Call Center, and it felt like entering the ‘promise land’. The job that I longed for was finally given—a pay described as; ‘Flowing milk and honey’.
‘Home-based church’ is the setup of our Sunday services, during the pandemic. Moreover, our pastor would send the message via email to be shared by the head of the house.
I remember one of the Pastor Wee’s sermons that say; “We will not wait for the pandemic to end for us to be blessed; for, during the pandemic we can be blessed!” I could not agree more about this statement since I’m experiencing it firsthand! I am so happy, and thankful; as well as, excited for what to come.
With that opportunity, I was able to bless some of my friends and brothers in Christ; as we will be working under the same company from now on too. We could say this is it! The promise of God we heard from Pastor Wee’s sermon.
That did not last long. Slapped by the turn of events, the company was shut down due to issues.
I lost my job once again…
I was not paid for ‘1 and half months’ of work dragging my friends on this roller coaster ride.
Just like the Israelites before entering the Promised Land, trials were faced—discouragement, doubt and fear enveloping them just like how I feel now. Somehow, I felt as if I lead my friends to failure.
I was so discouraged, angry and devastated that I stopped coming to house gatherings, every Sunday.
The hope of being able to pay all the pending bills, work on my marriage plan, build up my career, and providing for my family as to make my life—the ‘God-given open door’—was shut within a blink of an eye—heavy it was to bear! This was the first time that I experienced bending my knees to ask God if my plan was unpleasing to Him. ‘What have I done for this to happen?’
One week passed, and I felt defeated. I kept praying, crying and asking God for an answer.
One night, a prompting from the Holy Spirit reminded me of another sermon of Pastor Wee –‘On the Other Side’ where he said: “But Lord, I don’t understand why you allowed this to happen to me?” God looks and said “I love you, but I don’t need you to understand Me. I need you to trust Me.” Beloved readers, real faith is trusting God when you don’t understand life!
Pastor Jordan’s sermon (Where he shared his testimony that of when he was lining up at the hospital to buy medicine, then receiving bad news after bad news to the point that his wife and two daughters are all in a bad condition, still he chose to trust God and thank Him despite the situation he is in).
Will you be able to say “Praise the Lord and thank you Lord” even if all the things around you are falling apart; what you prayed for are taken from you; and, the world is benighted by uncertainty?
Just like what Job said: “The Lord gives and takes away!”
What I learned during this pandemic is despite, whatever happens, remember God’s promise; “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and promises! That’s why despite all the things that happened to me during this pandemic I could say 100% with the conviction that “ALL IS WELL!”